Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation, April 27) New York cops are notorious for freely handing out tickets, or so it seems to drivers, parkers, and the occasional cyclist. But one area where they've been seemingly timid is in ticketing bus lane violators. Last year, while reporting a story on the city's experiment with bus rapid transit in the Bronx, I even found an MTA car parked in the bus lane.
As it happens, the MTA was responsible for blocking plans for physically separated bus lanes on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan (coming this fall). The MTA feared delivery trucks would park in bus lanes, bringing buses to a standstill.
So a lot rests on being able to enforce bus lane violations. New York City has been stymied in -- where else? -- Albany, where assembly democrats have for years blocked legislation that would allow the city (don't ask!) to install cameras at intersections to catch red light violators -- and, as it happens, bus lane violators.
Now, as Matthew Schuerman reports from WNYC, the MTA is taking matters into its own hands, sort of, by mounting video cameras on two of the Bronx "select buses" -- the so-called Bx 12. The MTA can 't hand out tickets, but the cameras are designed to see whether software can detect whether cars are actually violating the bus lanes or merely for the "expeditious drop off/pick up of passengers and to make the next right turn," which according to the MTA, is legal.